Re: Romans 3:22-23

From: Timothy Bratton (
Date: Wed Oct 18 1995 - 21:09:43 EDT

On Wed, 4 Oct 1995 wrote:

> In Romans 3:23 what is the strength of the distinction between "sinned"
> (aorist tense) and "coming short" (present tense), if any? Why not the
> imperfect tense rather than the aorist? I realize the danger of reading too
> much into this and that the larger context should always be kept in mind.
> But this verse just doesn't make sense. If the aorist tense is understood
> as a one time completed action in the past, how could "all have sinned." Is
> Paul perhaps taking some poetic license here?

Dr. Timothy L. Bratton
Department of History/Pol. Science work: 1-701-252-3467, ext. 2022
6006 Jamestown College home: 1-701-252-8895
Jamestown, ND 58405 home phone/fax: 1-701-252-7507

        "All ignorance is dangerous, and most errors must be dearly
paid. And good luck must he have that carries unchastised an error in
his head unto his death." -- Arthur Schopenhauer.

        Since my last thorough exposure to koine Greek was over 25 years
ago, I'm probably going to make an idiot of myself, but "coming short of"
and "sinning" are related concepts of the verb HAMARTANO. The original
meaning of the word was to "miss the mark," as in archery, but also in
the moral sphere one "misses the mark" by settling for a lesser instead
of a greater good. For example, in a Christian context, heterosexual
marriage would be the "target," but adulterers, fornicators, and
homosexuals, while seeking some of the same comforts, pleasures, and
relationships found in marriage, would nevertheless "fall short of,"
"miss the mark," and -- ultimately -- "sin" in comparison to the norm.
If "for all have sinned" sounds too harsh, perhaps "for all have fallen
short" might do -- for no human can live up to God's expectations without
an infusion of grace. I'll leave this for the "big guns" on this list to
fill out, amend, or criticize.

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